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Sports Then and Now



Unexpected Winner at Belmont Stakes 2016 – the Highlights 0

Posted on September 06, 2016 by James Andrews
Creator won a photo finish over Destin to win the 2016 Belmont Stakes.

Creator won a photo finish over Destin to win the 2016 Belmont Stakes.

The hot weather was certainly one of the highlights of the 2016 Belmont Stakes, hosted earlier this year on Saturday June 11 in Elmont, NY. And although it didn’t agree with some of the horses there were many that appeared to enjoy the cooling water showers they received. Spectators enjoyed the sunshine though, as they watched a very exciting finish to the race.

Last year all the excited chatter was around American Pharoah, the horse that went into the race with the prospect of securing the Triple Crown. Of course, the now retired champion went on to be successful in its quest. This year there were a few popular topics before the big race, such as how much would Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist be missed and how much difference would the entry of pace setter Gettysburg make?

Preakness Stakes victor started as favorite

Whether wagering online at My Winners, or taking a chance at the track, most money went on Exaggerator; the horse that was victorious at the Preakness Stakes. This was in the absence of Nyquist, due to a low white blood cell count and a fever. In the early stages of the race it looked as though the confidence in the pre-race favorite was justified but Exaggerator eventually trailed off to finish in an unimpressive eleventh place in a thirteen horse field. This left the way open for others to break through.

The rise of Creator

Steve Asmussen trained Creator did not look that likely to set the course alight following a thirteenth place finish in the Kentucky Derby. The horse missed the Preakness Stakes and was accompanied in this race by another WinStar Frams owned horse, Gettysburg. Many saw the inclusion of Gettysburg in the race as an obvious pace setting ploy by the owners, and it seemed to work. Although the horse itself trailed off it brought several horses along, including Creator. Read the rest of this entry →

American Pharoah Proves That History Can Be Repeated 1

Posted on June 06, 2015 by Dean Hybl
American Pharoah is the first horse racing Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

American Pharoah is the first horse racing Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

After 37 years and many close calls, it might have been fair to believe that horse racing in the 21st Century was not destined for a Triple Crown winner. However, that was before American Pharoah did what 13 previous horses could not since Affirmed in 1978 and added victory at the Belmont Stakes to wins at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

With his wire-to-wire victory, American Pharoah is now the 12th member of an impressive club that began with Sir Barton in 1919 and also includes well known horses including Secretariat, Affirmed, Citation, Whirlaway and War Admiral.

While much has been made of the 37 year drought, perhaps the real number to indicate just how challenging it is to win the Triple Crown is that American Pharoah is just the fourth winner in the last 67 years. In fact, if you set aside the anomaly between 1973 and 1978 when there were three Triple Crown winners in a six year stretch, American Pharoah accomplished what 20 horses had not been able to complete since Citation in 1948.

That both jockey Victor Espinoza (twice) and trainer Bob Baffert (three times) had been in this position previously gave both of them an interesting perspective and understanding of the pressure and extra demands surrounding a run for the Triple Crown.

Of course, the different component of the equation in 2015 was the horse and American Pharoah proved that he was up to the challenge. That he headed right to the front and then stayed there throughout, actually growing his lead over the final quarter mile, illustrated that he was indeed a champion worthy of immortality. Read the rest of this entry →

Okay, We Care About Horse Racing Again (At Least for the Next Three Weeks) 17

Posted on May 17, 2014 by Dean Hybl
California Chrome will look to break the 36 year drought of Triple Crown champions.

California Chrome will look to break the 36 year drought of Triple Crown champions.

It is very likely that you had no idea that the Preakness Stakes was held this afternoon near Baltimore. However, now that California Chrome has won the first two legs of the Triple Crown you can guarantee that you will hear plenty about the Belmont Stakes, which will be held on June 7th.

While all but the most die-hard of sports fans generally don’t pay much attention to the three triple crown horse races contested over a five year period from early May through early June each year, there is still a little magic left in the idea of the Triple Crown.

Always recognized as an amazing accomplishment, it has been 36 years since a horse has been able to win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in the same year. Since Affirmed became the 11th horse to accomplish the feat in 1978 (ironically the third horse to do it in five years following Secretariat and Seattle Slew), 12 horses have won the first two races, but failed to capture the most physically demanding and longest of the three races.

The first few times that a horse fell short – Spectacular Bid in 1979, Pleasant Colony in 1981, Alysheba in 1987 and Sunday Silence in 1989 – the failure wasn’t necessarily a huge deal as it had only been a few years since the last Triple Crown and each had come pretty close to joining the elite club. Read the rest of this entry →

Poetry in Motion as Animal Kingdom Claims Kentucky Derby 21

Posted on May 11, 2011 by Rod Crowley

Graham Motion, the English born trainer of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom could hardly contain his surprise after his outsider hosed up in the ‘Race for the Roses’ in front of a record crowd of over 160,000 at Churchill Downs last weekend. Amazingly it was the horse’s first run on dirt having previously run all his races on turf.

Having only his fourth start, the huge Chestnut colt was only rated at around 20/1 to win America’s most prestigious race, but he looked every bit the winner when he began his surge down the final stretch of the ten furlong race. “It’s not something I ever expected to do,” said Motion a few hours after he had won the race, but he confirmed that the horse had come out of the race in great shape and that he would take his chance in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in three weeks time, for which he’ll sure to be favourite in the Preakness Stakes Odds given the manner of his Derby victory. Success in that race of course will put him in line to win the highly coveted American Triple Crown of horse racing, should he take part in the Belmont Stakes two weeks later.

The win was also a huge bonus for jockey, John Velazquz, who got the ride after the one time race favorite Uncle Mo was withdrawn from the race. It was Velaquez’s first win in the ‘Derby’ in thirteen previous attempts and he now looks like staying on the horse for the Preakness. Read the rest of this entry →

Records and Statistics of the Belmont Stakes 4

Posted on March 31, 2011 by Rod Crowley

As is well known to racing fans all over the world, the Belmont Stakes is the third and final leg of the American Triple Crown of horse racing and is held each year at the Belmont Park racetrack in Elmont, New York. The race takes place five weeks after the Kentucky Derby, which is the first leg of the Triple Crown and three weeks after the Preakness Stakes, which of course is the second leg, it usually works out to be the first Saturday in June. It is run over 12 furlongs on a left-handed dirt track and is often referred to as “The Test of Champions” or the “Run for the Carnations”. Over its long history, it was first run in 1867, it has created its own unique set of records and statistics; here are some of them:

Jockeys

Eddie Arcaro and Jim McLaughlin lead the all time record of wins with six apiece, but the jockey with the biggest win percentage is Bill Shoemaker, who the race five times from just eleven attempts. The only current jockey with more than one win is Edgar Prado, who earned himself a somewhat unfair reputation as the man who spoils Triple Crown dreams. His first win came in 2002 aboard Sarava, whose win in the race ended the Triple Crown hopes of War Emblem, Prado won again in 2004 where he rode Birdstone to victory thus killing off the Triple Crown dream of the great Smarty Jones. Julie Krone is the only female jockey to have ridden the winner of the race, which came in 1993 aboard Colonial Affair.

Trainers

With eight wins in the race James G Rowe remains the trainer with the most wins, his last coming way back in 1913; Rowe also won the race twice as a jockey in 1872 and 1873, making him only one of two to achieve the feat, the other being George M Odom. Woody Stephens earned legendary status when he trained five consecutive winners between 1982-86. Nick Zito who has saddled two winners holds the record of 22 for sending out the most starters in the race, while D Wayne Lukas, with three winners is second after saddling 21 starters. Dermot Weld is the only current European trainer to have saddled the winner, that came in 1990 when Go And Go won the race with jockey, Mick Kinane on board.

Horses

There have been eleven Triple Crown winners, who completed the hat-trick by landing the Belmont Stakes, they are:

Sir Barton – 1919

Gallant Fox – 1930

Omaha – 1935

War Admiral – 1937

Whirlaway – 1941

Count Fleet – 1943

Assault – 1946

Citation – 1948

Secretariat – 1973

Seattle Slew – 1977

Affirmed – 1978

There have been a total of seven horses in the last 13 years who have come to the Belmont Stakes only to have their Triple Crown dream shattered; whilst there has been a total of 21 in all. The speed record for the race is held by Secretariat who won in 1973 with a time of 2:24secs, in winning he also created the record of 31 lengths of the widest ever margin of victory. The last non-American trained horse to win was Victory Gallop who was trained in Canada and is that country’s only ever success in the race.

The Preakness Stakes: Can Uncle Mo Write His Name in the History Books? 4

Posted on February 22, 2011 by Rod Crowley

The Grade One Preakness Stakes is known also as the “The Run for the Black Eyed Susans” due to the blanket of the Maryland State flower being traditionally draped over the winner’s neck at the end of the race.

The race is run annually over 9½ furlongs on a dirt track at the world famous Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland and is recognized as the second leg of the highly coveted American Triple Crown, which comprises of the Kentucky Derby (first leg) and Belmont Stakes (third leg). The attendances at the race are the second highest in the sport, with only the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs attracting more spectators, in 2010, 95,760 people attended but that was down from over 121,000 in 2007 following the banning of fans being able to bring their own beer. The race is open to colts and fillies, with the ‘boys’ having to carry 126lb and the girls 5lbs less.

The history of the race dates back to 1873 (2 years before the Kentucky Derby) when Pimlico introduced a new quality Stakes race for three year olds. It was called Preakness in honour of a colt of the same name, who was the winner of the feature race on the day that Pimlico first opened in 1870. The first ever race was won by My Sheba who won by 10 lengths in fantastic style which remained the most emphatic victory in the race until 2004 when Smarty Jones, who had won the Kentucky Derby two weeks previously, came home by 11 lengths. Smarty Jones was then aimed at the Belmont Stakes where he became an odds on favorite in the Belmont Stakes betting to win the race and thus the coveted Triple Crown, which had not been won since Affirmed achieved the feat in 1977. In heart breaking fashion however this hugely popular colt, whose presence at Belmont Park had attracted it’s biggest ever crowd, was to be denied in the ‘Belmont’ by the late run of 36/1 outsider Birdstone. Read the rest of this entry →

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